News Release Mayor Warren, Council V.P. Lightfoot Sponsor Charter Amendment to Embed Equity into City Budget

City of Rochester

News Release 

(Monday, Feb. 22, 2021) -- Mayor Lovely A. Warren and City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot announced today that the City is moving forward with a Charter amendment that will require all City Departments to consider the implications of racial and gender equity when drafting their annual operating budgets.

“The Budget Equity Tool transforms City government into an instrument of equity by infusing that objective into our budget,” said Mayor Warren. “As the stewards of public dollars, we can leverage the City’s budget to help dismantle historic structures of racism and inequality that continue to deny opportunities for so many of our residents. We are putting action to aspiration and power to the purpose of our Equity and Recovery Agenda.”

City Council Vice President Lightfoot said: “The City’s budget is a statement of its priorities and a blueprint for achieving those priorities. By codifying equity into the City Charter, every aspect, policy and procedure of City government works to abolish the systems that were actually designed to oppress more than half of our city’s population. The work of the City government should benefit the people it serves and this Amendment will put all of City Hall in the business of doing that for the first time in our history.”

The Budget Equity Program will systemically integrate equity considerations into the City’s budget process to ensure “programs, projects, plans and investments align with City priorities to increase access to stakeholders that are underserved, underrepresented and/or disenfranchised.”

The program includes an Equity Tool that requires each City Department to convene an internal committee to evaluate equity implications in budget decisions and track those implications with annual benchmarks and assessments to “maximize equitable outcomes for underserved communities” which are determined with such factors as race, gender and physical and mental ability.

The Program aligns with and supports several other equity initiatives spearheaded by Mayor Warren, including the Race Equity and Leadership (REAL) initiative; the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE); the Equity and Recovery Agenda (ERA); the Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan; and, most recently, the Community Response to Executive Order 203 Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.

It was developed by the Office of Equity and the REAL Initiative CORE Team.

The Program has been incorporated into current preparations for the City’s Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget under Mayor Warren’s executive authority. At its Feb.16 meeting, City Council adopted legislation sponsored by the Mayor and Vice President Lightfoot to implement the Program and amend the City Charter to mandate that future Mayors and their Department leaders incorporate it into their budget proposals.

A public hearing on the Charter Amendment is scheduled for 11 a.m., March 3 in City Hall Room 309a.


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